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Gun Violence

Regarding guns in schools - Arming our teachers to protect our students is not the answer. As a college professor who is engaged to a high school teacher, this is a subject I care very deeply about. As a gun owner and a person who learned about gun use and safety as a child, I am also an advocate for second amendment rights. So, with both those mindsets, here is how I feel:

Safety regulations and oversight have kept pace with most technological advances. The automobile is a great example of this. Firearms are not. An increasingly smaller proportion of the American population still clings to the misguided belief that firearm regulation equates to an infringement upon their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Due to this belief, which is backed by gun advocacy groups with lots of money and a narrow perspective, our legislature has been unable or unwilling to move forward with legislation to make our population safe while preserving the original intent of the Second Amendment. This is unacceptable. Regulations need to be implemented to remove unnecessarily dangerous weapons from our everyday environment. There is no need for a non-military, non-law enforcement citizen to possess a weapon capable of rapidly killing a great number of people. Ceasing production of such weapons for mass consumption and offering buyback programs to remove existing weapons from circulation is a good start. It is also important to make sure that individuals intent on or predisposed to committing such crimes be prevented from obtaining such weapons through more thorough background checks and psychological evaluations and that people not be allowed to take possession of those firearms until the evaluation process is complete. This should be mandatory for anyone selling certain classifications of weapons no matter whether the sale is by an individual, at a gun show, or through a dealer. Anyone wishing to purchase a firearm should be required to take a firearm safety education class specific to the firearm they are purchasing or show evidence that they have done so. If they are unable or unwilling to complete the course or if the instructor determines they are not fit for possession, they should not be allowed to keep the firearm and this should be documented so that it appears on their background check the next time they attempt to purchase a firearm. This is something that gun advocacy groups could help with by facilitating trainings and aiding in the creation of a comprehensive, searchable, nationwide database. I am also in favor of implementing Extreme Risk Protective Orders so that family members and friends are able to play an active role in preventing tragedies such as mass shootings and suicides.

Additionally, our youth need to receive firearm safety training as part of their education whether it is in our regular school system or a secondary program similar to driver’s education or Hunter Education. For too many people, their only experience with firearms comes from movies and videogames, which over glorify the weapon and minimize the impact of its use. Here again, gun advocacy groups can help by providing FREE education to all youth. The training does not need to include teaching the youth how to operate a firearm (though as an Eagle Scout I believe there is great value in that lesson) but must include proper safety and respect for the firearm and a real life demonstration of its capabilities.

In summary, we must educate our youth about firearm safety and teach them the impact and consequences of its misuse. We must implement regulations to remove unnecessary weapons from circulation, increase the strength and scope of our background checks, and ensure that those wishing to purchase a weapon are properly trained in its use and general firearm safety. We must work together to keep our friends, neighbors, and families safe by preventing tragedies caused by gun violence.

NEW 3/3/2018:

A friend who would like to remain anonymous created this easy to follow guide to help people who are concerned about gun violence but are not sure how to take action. Please feel free to share: Actions to Engage in Support of Gun Control


Adam Sovkoplas for State Representative
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